Plans to upgrade Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, a main connection between Canberra’s north and south side, are underway, with the appointment to the project of consultancy firm SMEC.
The project, titled the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Renewal (CABR) and costing $137 million, is set to involve strengthening the bridge, increasing its load-bearing capacity, and accommodating wider shared pedestrian and cycleway paths.
National Capital Authority (NCA) chief executive Sally Barnes said the authority was working closely with the ACT government so projects do not hamper “business and community activities”.
“There will be public consultation at relevant stages and the NCA will give regular updates to all stakeholders until the project is completed,” Barnes said.
NCA project director Greg Tallentire added the authority and SMEC would be undertaking background investigations on heritage, environmental impacts, and traffic issues soon.
“The design is expected to take 10 months to finalise, and the project will commence in late 2023,” Tallentire said.
“We will undertake the works in stages to minimise traffic disruptions and maintain operation as well as safe passage under the bridge for all Lake users.”
MP Alice Payne, chair of the joint standing committee on the National Capital and External Territories, described the bridge as an “iconic” symbol of Canberra as one of two bridges crossing Lake Burley Griffin.
“It is a critical component of the transport network of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. The Bridge was built in 1963 and will turn 60 years old in 2023,” Payne said.
“It is time to address the evolving needs of our modern modes of transport and ensure the bridge will continue to serve future generations.
The bridge redesign comes as the ACT government is working to extend the light rail network from the city to Commonwealth Park as part of Stage 2A, the stop before Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
With plans to extend the light rail to Woden, the next stage of the light rail extension would involve going over the bridge in Light Rail Stage 2B.
According to a March 2021 update, the preferred method for the light rail to cross the lake would be a third bridge inserted in the middle gap of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

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Anna Macdonald is a Sydney-based Journalist at The Mandarin. She was previously at Mumbrella, reporting on Australia’s media and marketing industry. She graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts and Laws.
People: Alice Payne Greg Tallentire Sally Barnes
Departments: National Capital Authority NCA
Tags: automobiles bridge cars commonwealth avenue bridge Environmental Heritage Light rail modern modes of transport pedestrians stops traffic upagrades widening
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By Anna Macdonald
Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership at Monash University
Professional Services Review (PSR)
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
The Department of Industry, Science and Resources
Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
Australian Government

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